A Decatur Utilities crew left Alabama to help with storm recovery in New Jersey, but did not make the trip because of what they are now calling confusion over union paperwork.
The six-man crew staged in Virginia, but Decatur Utilities said they were never able to get in touch with officials or utility companies in New York or New Jersey. While the crew stood down in Virginia, Decatur Utilities officials claimed they received a union contract they thought they would have to agree to before helping storm victims.
General Manager Ray Hardin appeared on Fox Business Channel Friday morning saying, "We were presented documents from IBEW that required our folks to affiliate with the unions and that was something we could not agree to."
Decatur Utilities later released a statement expanding on that, "Upon arriving at a staging area in Virginia, crews were held in place pending clarification of documents received from IBEW that implied a requirement of our employees to agree to union affiliation while working in the New York and New Jersey areas. It was and remains our understanding that agreeing to those requirements was a condition of being allowed to work in those areas."
Late Friday at a press conference, Hardin said the documents actually came from Electric Cities of Alabama, a coalition of the state's municipally owned utilities.
Bottom line, it appears now that Decatur Utilities wrongly assumed they would have to agree to the union contract before traveling to New Jersey to help with recovery efforts. The IBEW said in times of crisis, help is welcomed from union and non-union utility workers.
Hardin said as they waited for confirmation on the documents, crews received word that Seaside Heights had received the assistance they needed from other sources.
"At this stage, it is not clear who is alleged to have turned the crew away and the company that employs the affected workers has denied the claim," said IBEW President Ed Hill in a statement. "IBEW local leaders in New Jersey have reiterated what has been the long standing record of our union – in times of crisis all help is welcome and we pull together with everyone to meet the needs of the public. We have communicated this to the office of New Jersey Governor Christie as well."
The crew from Decatur Utilities attempted to look for work in other areas, but Hardin said based on the uncertainty of other union requirements, they made the decision to return home after being stalled in Virginia most of the day Thursday.
Other utility crews from Alabama are still helping with storm cleanup. Huntsville Utilities said they were not turned away and are in Long Island, New York. Joe Wheeler EMC said they did not respond to New Jersey, but did travel to Maryland and headed home once they were finished.
Thursday, April 24 2014 10:50 AM EDT2014-04-24 14:50:21 GMT
Rankin County Sheriff's office is investigating the death of a Hinds County Sheriff's Deputy along with his wife. Both were found deceased in their residence at 126 Caledonian Blvd. around 9 last night.More >>
Both were found deceased in their residence on Caledonian Blvd. around 9 last night.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 9:49 AM EDT2014-04-24 13:49:46 GMT
According to WTVA, an Amber Alert has been issued for a missing Lowndes County toddler. Lowndes County Chief Deputy Marc Miley says they are searching for 2-year-old Malia Harris of Columbus. OfficialsMore >>
Georgia officials believe suspects in the Mississippi Amber Alert case may be in southwest Georgia. Cook County, GA investigators have been actively searching the Lenox area for the suspects. Officials confirmed a heavy presence of law enforcement in that area Wednesday night.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 5:11 AM EDT2014-04-24 09:11:15 GMT
(WMC) – Two suspected kidnappers sought in nationwide Amber Alert were captured in Sylvester just after midnight Thursday. 34-year-old Donald Harris and 31-year-old Allison Studdard and Maliah were travelingMore >>
Two suspected kidnappers sought in nationwide Amber Alert were captured in Sylvester just after midnight Thursday.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 11:03 AM EDT2014-04-24 15:03:24 GMT
Jackson police are investigating an officer involved shooting that happened early Thursday morning. Police tell us it started as an armed robbery at the Shell station on Daniel Lake Blvd. The suspectMore >>
We are told that the suspect faces 2 counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of armed robbery of a business. More >>
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:35:19 GMT
Police have surveillance photos of a man who is wanted for stealing from healthplex facilities in the metro area. They believe he stole a Rolex watch at a health and workout facility in Jackson Monday.TuesdayMore >>
Police have surveillance photos of a man who is wanted for stealing from healthplex facilities in the metro area. They believe he stole a Rolex watch at a health and workout facility in Jackson Monday.More >>
Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:24 PM EDT2014-04-23 19:24:25 GMT
The search is on for the woman who allegedly stole items from a little boy's gravesite in Richland County. According to Ontario Police, several people have contacted them concerning gravesite thefts atMore >>
The search is on for the woman who allegedly stole items from a little boy's gravesite in Richland County.More >>
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39201